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How do you judge the success of a game?

One of the questions I have pondered for a while is how to judge the success of a game. Many people will think this is all to do with the number of downloads achieved or the number of 10/10 ratings they are given, however to me this is just wrong.

Downloads do not really account account for anything – sure a good game may get more downloads that a bad game – but equally people may download a game based on the quality of a programmers previous creations, because it appears to be popular or simply because it is advertised around them.

A good game certainly may get people telling their friends which will obviously help increase the download count, however before the viral effect can take place some start has to be made to get the word out about the game.

Of course the definition of a ‘good’ game is different for different people, heck, some people think Mario clones are actually cool. There are few games I can really say are ‘decent’ on the GMC – but of course my view of a good game differs from everybody else’s. Take for instance Forted (last time I promise) – I like this game and gave it my one and only rating in 4 years at the current GMC. Other people however didn’t seem to think the game was anything special. Far worse games achieve higher download figures, maybe because people are curious to see just how crap the creation is, or maybe because – as happens all to often – they believe the hype or want to copy it.

The success of a game can be judged in many ways – for some just getting a game to the release stage is a success. Especially if you are working on your first game this will be the case. You may not care about what people think of your game, in which case you are being very foolish, but to you it is a success.

A game may be viewed as a success if it achieves high ratings – normally given out by GMC newbies who come up with scores such as 12/10 or 7.4242111231/10 without giving any reasonable or remotely logical explanation as to how they arrived at the score. These members are also the types who like leave comments like “Mega c00l game -this rockz!”, it is traditional for the creator of the game to then copy this in to his topic description to plague the creations forum with grammatically incorrect and mis-spelt half sentences.

Then of course you have people with a little more time and sense who will judge a game on different aspects, e.g. graphics, originality and story – all of which will be irrelevant to Mario clones. These ratings make more sense as a clear breakdown of the game is shown – however saying things like “graphics 7.5/10, sound 3/10, story 0/10” doesn’t help. A two year old could pluck random numbers between 1 and 10 out of the air. Justification. Comments without justification are as worthless. Saying “That sucks” doesn’t help unless you are describing an automated drinking straw, instead you should say “Your game lacks originality as you have illegally ripped Mario sprites and music and claim to have come up with a unique concept. You also managed to mis-spell every other word in the game“. Then the creator knows to go away and come up with a new concept perhaps even a Pokemon fighting game or Zelda.

So far I have discounted download figures and ratings as accurate methods of judging the success of a game.

In truth there is no one method that can be used to judge the success of a game, and to different people success will be judged differently. Some people may be proud of their 7 downloads and 3 comments, whereas others will be disappointed unless they manage to sell 100 copies of their game.

I haven’t produced any games that I think have been successful, sure they have been finished and were downloaded several hundred times but I never stretched myself far enough to come up with something I was really proud of and could call a success.

In summary it is up to each game creator as to how they judge the success their game has achieved, and we should respect that.

What do you think?

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  1. I believe the success could be judged on a mix of things… My most successful game was Randolf The Reindeer: Christmas Edition (the original not the 4 remakes 😛 ). It had thousands of downloads, won 2/3 Game Maker Competitions (got 3rd in one for the WIP version of the game) and rated well with the few replies I got on the GMC.

    To me. That game was a success. Sure it didn’t get the amount of replies the great Shawn64’s game Jet Rampage 4 was getting. But quality wise it was up there and the people that played it, loved it! It was mentioned multiple times in a community topic asking what people thought the best GM game was.

    The game still has maybe 1 or 2 followers…. I haven’t done a survey but I believe some people still enjoy playing the game to get them in the christmas spirit. At the time YoMamasMama and I were praising each others work (this was before he created Jumper and was such a GM celeb as he is now). We went head to head in a competition and I won! Go Me! Having said that, I was a one hit wonder. His 3 jumper creations have been far more successful. But you know what. There’s a point in ones life where they have to realise Game Maker Games aren’t gonna help them pay their way in life. Maybe one day I’ll come out with a new creation which will make the GM n00bz give me “This game Rox! 50/10!” comments. But for now, I’m sticking with my web development on my mac. When I upgrade I make get Parrarels Desktop and run Windows on my Mac just for Game Maker, for now though I’ll just concentrate on what is making me money…

    Sorry about that flash back there. You can just read the following line if you want to know what I was ranting about but don’t want to read it all….

    I was once better than YoMamasMama! 😛

  2. [quote]If you would like me to write about your gamemaker games, website, magazine or whatever you can send me a PM at the GMC and I will do my best to mention your creation within the next weeks blog posts. I am not [b]biest[/b] so whatever gets sent to me will get an fair review and my honest opinion.[/quote]

    This is a bit off topic, but that typo’s meant to be ‘biased’ ;).

  3. I think the problem is that, as people specialise in different areas, they often don’t judge how much effort has actually gone into the game. So often, people don’t recognise l33t coding but instead focus on graphics on how much they like the user or something like that. You can spend ages making a flawless game and not get appreciated for it because it doesn’t have certain graphics or is too complex (a problem I beliveve FredF often has)

  4. Grego, too true!

    A lot of games get chastised because, even though they have excellent gameplay, great sound effects, and good physics, the creator didn’t have the 1337-ist graphic skillz.


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